Total impact approach

Access takes a total impact approach to its operations, including investing our endowment.

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This means that we consider the social and environmental impact of all of our work, including the investments we hold in our portfolio.

This Cabinet Office paper details this approach and provides examples from other trusts and foundations. We work with and learn from others who are considering or have adopted this approach and will share findings.

Our Endowment

Our capacity building programme is funded by a £60m endowment we were given by the Cabinet Office in 2015 (this relationship has since moved to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – DCMS). We fund programmes which help charities and social enterprises to engage with the social investment market and become investment-ready. 

Rather than simply holding these funds in the bank before they are given in grants, we use them to make investments which will achieve as much social impact as possible, before being repaid and then used to make grants.

In defining the impact we are seeking to achieve, we developed a set of priorities for how the endowment should be invested which align closely with our mission of increasing the flow of capital to charities and social enterprises. We call this the bull’s eye model.

Access’s Director of Finance and Operations, has blogged on the process which the Endowment Working Group went through to develop this approach, as well as regular updates on the composition of our portfolio. 

A bull's eye diagram showing the priorities for the investment of Access's endowment. The centre of the bull's eye is charities and social enterprises delivering social impact in the UK, the next layer is charities and social enterprises delivering impact elsewhere. Outside of this are three layers - other organisations delivering social impact, other organisations with best in class ESG indicators and Cash.

Rathbones manage the endowment for us and invest principally in social and ethical fixed-income investments such as charity bonds and other ethical bonds. Over time its ambition is to shift as much as possible of the capital in the endowment to being invested at the centre of the bull’s eye.

  • 54% of Access’s endowment is invested in organisations delivering social impact, including 34% that is directly invested in UK charities and social enterprises (as at December 2022). The remainder is invested in organisations which have best in class ESG indicators.
  • Despite wider economic challenges, the Access portfolio managed by Rathbones has outperformed market benchmarks, achieving a total weighted return (after fees) of 7.37% (as at December 2022). 

Our endowment has both a positive impact and good financial performance, outperforming the target benchmarks detailed in our investment policy statement.

You can read our impact report and appendices here:

Highlights of our impact in 2022 include our investments supporting:

  • A more inclusive society and economy: including management of 124 social housing properties
  • Improved health outcomes: including the provision of mobility solutions to 55 disabled people, support or accommodation to 67 people with learning disabilities and healthcare services for 490 people
  • Positive climate action and energy security: including renewable energy generation to power 136 average UK homes

You can read our blog posts about our endowment investment here

Capital Preservation Fund

In 2018 Access received £10m of funds from dormant accounts to finance our Local Access programme. This money will be blended with around £15m of repayable finance provided by Big Society Capital to provide flexible capital to support the development of enterprise models for charities and social enterprises in approximately five places.

Furthermore, in 2020 Access received a commitment of £30m from dormant accounts to provide support to charities and social enterprises impacted by the COVID pandemic.

These funds are managed as capital preservation funds. They will be spent over a shorter period than the endowment and at the time the funds were received the exact timings of spend are relatively uncertain. Therefore in order to meet Access’s total impact objectives the Endowment Investment Committee decided to place these funds with a range of social banks.

This provides Access with comfort that the funds are being used to support lending to social purpose organisations and we can therefore be assured that the capital preservation fund is strongly aligned to our bull’s eye approach.

Investment policy statements

Separate investment policy statements have been created for the Endowment and Capital Preservation Fund to make clear that they are two distinct funds with separate intentions. You can download the statements here:

Investment Policy Statement – Endowment Fund

Investment Policy Statement – Capital Preservation Fund

What we buy

Outside of our programmes, Access doesn’t buy a huge amount. However, we still seek to apply our total impact approach across our procurement, for example: